What Kills Love?


by Paula Susan~Falling in love is like being in a state of psychosis! You look at this person and you go weak. You long for every moment together. Your body yearns for connection. And, here’s the unrealistic kicker: you really believe that this magnificent feeling, this unbelievable passion between the two of you will last forever. You actually expect that you will always find a way to negotiate lovingly; that your partner will always listen with compassion; that you will always have comfort in each other’s arms; that you will never want to bed another.

But isn’t it fantasy to think you could dwell in this state forever? The euphoria one feels in the beginning of loving is created by hormones that dissipate. Realistically, a person can’t walk around permanently turned on, and still have the energy and drive for all the things that have to happen to make a life.

Yet, in this state of joy, you agree happily to live your lives together for the duration. You say “yes” to life’s trials and tribulations. You agree easily to fidelity. You do this before your friends, family, and if you believe, God. This vow, whether legally binding or made to the universe, is given with a sanctity and sincerity that is thrilling.

So why do those witnessing the ceremony wonder whether it will last? Many of them have chosen to remain in mediocre marriages or are divorced themselves. Often they are out there looking for another mate who will not disappoint them. Too many of us know personally and tragically how fragile love is. But are we aware of the why?

Many change partners and find that they have recreated an old pattern – one that has kept them from the relationship they have dreamed about. For healthy relating, each of us needs to be aware of who we are intrinsically. What are the unconscious drives and defenses with which we live our lives? How solid is our sense of self? What are the beliefs that we hold from our early life experiences? And, how will all of that play out with our new partner?

As Harville Hendrix warns in his book “Getting the Love You Want”, the unconscious parts of you and your partner will get triggered once you have a deep connection with each other. He says that we are drawn together for the opportunity to heal the wounds of the past. And didn’t Socrates have the right idea when he said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

So I’m suggesting you might consider speaking to a therapist who can guide you to your authentic self. You can’t imagine how freeing that experience can be. Unless we are healthy enough to understand and express ourselves, it will be very difficult to accept the differences in another. With an intact self, we have the courage to be authentic in our communications. This creates safety and trust. Partners can hear what we say when we are real and loving. And the residue of the past will have been vanquished.

Examples are the critical husband who grew up with a critical parent. He is tough on everyone. Or the rage-a-holic who is so difficult to live with, as he unconsciously carries the experience of an abusive father. Or, the person who lives in fear of loss because a parent died when they were young. Or the woman who was molested as a child and carries shame around sexuality. Or the many of us who were kept silent because children are to be seen and not heard. They are the ones who do not express themselves. (Somewhere deep inside is the belief that no one would care anyway.)

Trust me. Unexpressed feelings become resentments that grow over time until there is a blow-up, or affair, or divorce. We need to talk with each other! We need to keep the connection. We need daily to nourish the love that we have and when our partners aren’t perfect, we need to sit down and lovingly speak feelings and ask that they listen with their heart. This is the way to create a safe space between you which builds the trust that binds people in intimate connection.

It is we who kill relationships. We have co-created them. Therein lays the point. We need to be lovingly authentic and open to this person we chose to be with. They see the world differently because of their different life experiences. It is up to us to respect those differences.

If we can’t do that, then it is we, ourselves, who do the killing. For love to last, it requires our ability to relate with deep understanding of ourselves and the other and to communicate our truth from our hearts. If that is what we want, then that is what we give, even when it is difficult. We have the power within us to protect what we want so desperately.



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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on earth.www.paulasusan.com

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  1. Pingback: Sex: We Can Do It, But Can We Talk About It? Part 1-FamilyAffaires.com

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